Incriminated live eels not exported to Hong Kong

Following confirmation with the Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (GDCIQ), the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said today (August 24) that those fish farms on the Mainland, reportedly to have supplied Japan live eels found to contain endosulfan, were not registered farms destined for exports to Hong Kong.

Under the current arrangement with the Mainland, all live eels for export to Hong Kong should come from registered farms, which are subject to stringent control and monitoring of harmful substances and chemicals.

"They must be accompanied by health certificates certifying that the fish are fit for human consumption," a CFS spokesman said.

Endosulfan is a registered pesticide, mainly used in fruits and vegetables. This pesticide is therefore monitored in fruits and vegetables under CFS's food surveillance programme.

Some 140 samples of fruits and vegetables have been tested for endosulfan since 2004 and all the results are satisfactory.

"Endosulfan is normally not used in fish as some fish species are very sensitive to the toxic effect of this pesticide. There is also no maximum residue limits set for endosulfan in fish by Codex or other food regulatory agencies, such as those in USA, Australia, European Union and Canada.

"At the levels of endosulfan detected in eels in Japan, an adult would have to consume at least 13 kilogrammes of the eel sample in one go or four kilogrammes each day on a long-term basis before he would experience adverse health effects, according to international safety assessment of endosulfan in human," the spokesman said.

"Though the health risk is low, we would take eel samples for the testing of endosulfan to assess the situation," he said.

Some other pesticides, such as DDT, which could persist in the environment for a prolonged period, are already monitored in fish under the food surveillance programme.

Ends/Thursday, August 24, 2006